Unlike the years before, 2023 saw a slight lull in business in the days leading up to Onam.
KOCHI: Before the advent of big malls and the one-click shopping experience, Broadway market was the go-to for most Kochiities. Though its narrow streets see a perennial stream of customers all throughout the year, Onam is when the place is most alive! TNIE spent a day snaking in and out of the many bylanes here to record this festive fervour.
Unlike the years before, 2023 saw a slight lull in business in the days leading up to Onam. This is despite the early market predictions indicating that businesses will not only thrive but will also make up for past losses with celebrations now back in full swing after years of calamities and Covid.
“Compared with last year, the market is dull,” Abdul Haneef, the manager of Style N Style, tells it plainly.
“Though Onam business began as early as August, it is only now that customers have begun their festival shopping. Unlike previous years, only traditional onam wear has registered decent sales. Also, the footfall has drastically reduced. If we got 100 footfalls last season, now it is only 40-50.”
The recent rise in the price of goods and the lingering financial crunch are the likely reasons for the hesitancy on the part of the customer, some traders opine.“As goods gradually get more expensive, people’s purchasing power comes down. In such scenarios, customers put off buying textiles for later,” says Jasmine K J, staff of a textile shop here.
That’s not all. According to her, the youngsters have all but abandoned the Broadway market. “Youngsters don’t throng the market like the old days. So, items like dhawani, skirts and tops, which are preferred by youths, have fewer takers this season,” she adds. However, like Abdul and other traders, Jasmine, too, harbours a hope that the coming weekend would see an uptick in business.
Lending more hope is Ganesh Krishna, the owner of TAK textile shop. “While it’s true that the market is not as vibrant as the years before, there’s a renewed interest for traditional wear. Powerloom clothes donning stripes and checked designs, too, have seen decent sales because of its relatively cheap prices,” Ganesh says.
According to him, what impairs businesses here is the undercutting of the market by wayside vendors. “They sell goods for half the price, making it difficult for establishments like ours,” he says. The other big roadblock is the unscientific parking system. “This is why people are hesitant to visit Broadway market. Online shopping experiences, too, have hurt our businesses to some extent,” Ganesh adds.
This is seconded by Shereena Basheer, a customer in Broadway. “Lack of parking space discourages people from coming here. Before going into shops, I make sure to do a quick scan of the prices online and compare it with the prices of items in physical stores. Honestly, I’d rather buy items online,” she says.